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Canon M vs Leica M8

The Canon EOS M and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in July 2012 and September 2006. The Canon M is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless. The cameras are based on an APS-C (Canon M) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 10.4 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon M versus Leica M8
Canon M Leica M8
Mirrorless system camera Rangefinder camera
Canon EF-M mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
17.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12,800 (100 - 25,600) ISO 160-2,500
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 1040k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
4.3 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
109 x 66 x 32 mm, 298 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS M and the Leica M8? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon M and the Leica M8 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The Canon M can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the M8 is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, silver).

Size Canon M vs Leica M8
Compare Canon M versus M8 top
Comparison Canon M or M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is considerably larger (55 percent) than the Canon M. Moreover, the M8 is substantially heavier (98 percent) than the Canon M. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Canon M nor the M8 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon M 109 mm 66 mm 32 mm 298 g 230 n Jul 2012 599i
2.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon M100 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 302 g 295 n Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon M10 108 mm 67 mm 35 mm 301 g 255 n Oct 2015 499i
5.
 
Canon G7 X 103 mm 60 mm 40 mm 304 g 210 n Sep 2014 699i
6.
 
Canon 100D 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
7.
 
Canon 700D 133 mm 100 mm 79 mm 580 g 440 n Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon 400D 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
10.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
12.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
13.
 
Panasonic GF6 111 mm 65 mm 38 mm 323 g 340 n Apr 2013 499i
14.
 
Panasonic G3 115 mm 84 mm 47 mm 336 g 270 n May 2011 599i
15.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N 110 mm 62 mm 35 mm 269 g 480 n Feb 2013 499i
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3 117 mm 67 mm 42 mm 314 g 470 n May 2012 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The Canon M was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 percent) than the M8, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon M features an APS-C sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 46 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon M and Leica M8 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Canon M offers a higher resolution of 17.9 megapixels, compared with 10.4 MP of the Leica M8. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.31μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the Canon M is much more recent (by 5 years and 10 months) than the M8, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Canon M implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Canon M for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon M has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS M has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M8 are ISO 160 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

Canon M versus M8 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the Canon M has a notably higher overall DXO score than the M8 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 0.3 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Canon M APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.282765
2.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
3.
 
Canon M100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.512.9127278
4.
 
Canon M10 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.475365
5.
 
Canon G7 X 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671
6.
 
Canon 100D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
7.
 
Canon 700D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.268161
8.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
9.
 
Canon 400D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
10.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
11.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
12.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
13.
 
Panasonic GF6 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i20.710.662254
14.
 
Panasonic G3 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i21.010.666756
15.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.812.5106774
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3 APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i22.712.3111473

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The Canon M indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the Canon M can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the M8 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the Canon M relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon M, the Leica M8, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon Mnone n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.3 n n
2.
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon M100none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.1 Y n
4.
 
Canon M10none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.6 Y n
5.
 
Canon G7 Xnone n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/2000s 6.5 Y Y
6.
 
Canon 100Doptical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
7.
 
Canon 700Doptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
9.
 
Canon 400Doptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
11.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Panasonic GF6none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 4.2 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic G31440 n 3.0 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Sony NEX-3Noptional n 3.0 460 tilting n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3optional n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The Canon M has a touchscreen, while the M8 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Canon M and the M8 write their files to SDXC cards. The Canon M supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M8 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS M and Leica M8 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon MYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
2.
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon M100-stereomono--micro2.0YYY
4.
 
Canon M10-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon G7 X-stereomono--micro2.0YY-
6.
 
Canon 100DYmonomonoY-mini2.0---
7.
 
Canon 700DYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
9.
 
Canon 400DY-----2.0---
10.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
11.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic GF6-stereomono--mini2.0YY-
14.
 
Panasonic G3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N-stereomono--micro2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-F3Ystereomono--mini2.0---

Both the Canon M and the M8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the Canon M was followed by the Canon EOS M3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon M or the Leica M8 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS M:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (17.9 vs 10.4MP) with a 32% higher linear resolution.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 230k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.3 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (109x66mm vs 139x80mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 293g or 50 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 10 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Canon M is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

Canon M 14:05 M8

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Canon M or the M8 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon M3/5+..4/54/5 Jul 2012 599i
2.
 
Leica M8....+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon M1003/5+..4/53.5/5 Aug 2017 499i
4.
 
Canon M10........4/5 Oct 2015 499i
5.
 
Canon G7 X4/5+ +77/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699i
6.
 
Canon 100D4/5+78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
7.
 
Canon 700D....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2013 649i
8.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
9.
 
Canon 400D..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
10.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
11.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
12.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
13.
 
Panasonic GF6..+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 499i
14.
 
Panasonic G33/5+ +75/1004.5/55/5 May 2011 599i
15.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3N3/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2013 499i
17.
 
Sony NEX-F34/5..74/1004.5/54.5/5 May 2012 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon M:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M8:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon M vs Leica M8

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon M Leica M8
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF-M mount lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date July 2012 September 2006
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Canon M Leica M8
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 27.0 x 18.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 486 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 32.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 17.9 Megapixels 10.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5184 x 3456 pixels 3936 x 2630 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.31 μm 6.84 μm
    Pixel Density 5.39 MP/cm2 2.13 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 160 - 2,500 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 25,600 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 65 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.2 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 827 663
    Screen Specs Canon M Leica M8
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon M Leica M8
    Focus System On-Sensor Phase-detect Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 4.3 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support UHS-I no
    Connectivity Specs Canon M Leica M8
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon M Leica M8
    Battery Type LP-E12 BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 109 x 66 x 32 mm
    (4.3 x 2.6 x 1.3 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 298 g (10.5 oz) 591 g (20.8 oz)

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